The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Event provides push toward a Tobacco Free Pacific by 2025

In 2013, Ministers of Health from the Pacific island countries (PICs) set an ambitious goal of a Tobacco Free Pacific by 2025. While the PICs have made great progress in tobacco control recently, including adopting tax increases, establishing smoke-free spaces, enacting packaging and labelling laws, and establishing regulations for licensing, creating a Tobacco Free Pacific by 2025 will be tough.

Recent data show that over 50 percent of male youth and 20-40 percent of female youth in some PICs are current users of any tobacco product. Estimates for adults, aged 15 years and over, show over 40 percent of males in several PICS are current smokers of a tobacco product, with female smoking rates generally lower.

Successes and challenges

Events like the recent Oceania Tobacco Control Conference (OTCC) 2015 provide great opportunities to share successes and challenges in the PICs, and to learn from others.

The three-day conference, and pre-event workshops, in Perth (20-22 October) brought together government and non-government representatives from the Cook Islands, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Fiji and Samoa, as well as colleagues from Australia and New Zealand. They discussed issues such as:

  • Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the PICs;
  • Multi-sectoral coordinating mechanisms to address tobacco control, tobacco industry interference and enforcement of legislation;
  • Smoke-free homes;
  • Effective tobacco control enforcement;
  • Decreasing the burden of cancer by creating smoke-free workplaces and,
  • Strategic health communication campaigning.

Most Pacific island delegates also made presentations during the event, while many highly-respected global experts both informed and inspired participants. Plain packaging, industry interference, cessation, tobacco as a social justice issue, smoking in prisons, economic aspects of tobacco control (including taxation), and e-cigarettes were just some of the hot topics discussed.

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